2012 in numbers

 

Dear Readers: I have grim and terrible news to share with you. I was taking a look at my trusty wall calendar, the one put out by local electric coop, to see what kind of photo of a lineman playing with high voltage lines was on the next page, when I noticed there was no next page. That’s right, my calendar ENDS after December 31. Nothing more.  Nada. Which means that the Mayans were right, they just had their dates mixed up.

So there I was, in the type of contemplative, retrospective mood that the apocalypse tends to inspire, when I realized that if I could cobble together the right combination of numbers, I would unlock some celestial vault, in which the secret to saving the world -- a 2013 calendar from the local coop -- was waiting. So here goes: Some of my favorite and least favorite numbers from 2012. Most have to do with energy, but some have to do with, well, other stuff (yet it’s all related, of course).

1: My ranking of “Energy Independence” amongst the most overhyped buzzwords uttered in 2012. Politicians have been touting their desire to achieve independence from foreign oil imports since the days of Nixon, but this year, as new drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques hit paydirt across the nation, the phrase took on new meaning.

Dozens: The number of times pundits, “experts,” and media outlets erroneously declared that the U.S. is now a “net energy exporter.” They were referring to the fact that the U.S. became a net “fuel” exporter, meaning we export more refined oil products -- diesel, gasoline, kerosene, etc. -- than we import. We also export far more coal than we import. But that’s not enough to offset the millions of barrels of oil per day that we get from foreign countries.

174: Number of drill rigs operating in North Dakota in Dec. 2012.

12: Number of drill rigs operating in North Dakota a decade earlier.

4,000: Number of people a planned housing development in North Dakota will be able to accommodate.

2.8: Unemployment rate in North Dakota in Nov. 2102. The national rate was 7.7 percent.

310 million: Number of barrels of oil produced in the U.S. in October 1970.

194 million: Number of barrels of oil produced in the U.S. in September 2012.

316 million: Number of barrels of crude oil and products imported into the U.S. in September 2012.

10.8 million: Number of barrels of crude oil and products imported into the U.S. per day in Dec. 2012.

2.9 million: Number of barrels of crude oil and oil products exported by the U.S. per day in December 2012.

125 million: Tons of coal exported from U.S. mines this year, a record. Though the buzz is all about potential exports to China, quite a bit of the exports are actually going to Europe, where Germany’s phase out of nuclear power is leading it to use more coal.

32: Percent of U.S. electricity generated by coal in April of 2012, the lowest share in decades. Coal’s shine has been rubbed off by cheap natural gas, at least for as long as natural gas stays cheap.

$14.50: Price per million BTUs for natural gas in December 2005.

$3.30: Price for natural gas in December 2012.

$920,000: Amount of shortfall in La Plata County, Colo., budget due to falling natural gas prices.

48: Percentage of average snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin at the end of November.

89
: Percentage of average snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin at the end of December, following a series of moist storms that pounded the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies.

#1: Rank of the period from August 2011 to August 2012 amongst the warmest 12 month periods on record for the United States.

3.35: Degrees F by which that period was warmer than the 20th century average.

100: Number of bears killed in the Glenwood and Aspen, Colo., area in 2012, a record. That's three times last year's death count (during a very wet year), and a bit less than twice the count in 2009 (when it was dry). 

Well, there you have it folks. And guess what, not one new calendar. Damn. I’ll see you on the other side.

Photo of a sign in Marin County, California, by the author.

Jonathan Thompson is a senior editor for High Country News, and is preparing for the second apocalypse of this month by spending time near the San Andreas fault. His Twitter handle is @jonnypeace.

High Country News Classifieds
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • ARIZONA PROGRAM MANAGER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks an Arizona Program Manager. The Arizona Program Manager works...
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!